Today The Happy made its online debut at Film Daily. This hilarious short film follows the misadventures of Par, a bewildered Indian-American from Texas and New Jersey who is mistaken for something of a swami as he searches Los Angeles for his own fulfillment. Parekh wrote, directed, produced, and stars in the eight-minute comedy, which also serves as the pilot for a web series based on the lovelorn and spiritually-lost Par.
After bumbling through an awkward conversation with his ex, our protagonist stumbles into a wayward flyer that, like falling leaflets from a rescue helicopter, offers him salvation…in the form of a free hug (this is LA, not Saigon). What unfolds next is reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil (in which a government worker swats a fly which falls into his typewriter resulting in a typo that leads to the arrest of the wrong man). In The Happy, due to a house number’s missing screw, Par lands not at the house of free hugs, but rather at the apartment of a self-obsessed, new-age actress Astrid desperately seeking her own transcendental happiness.
Astrid, who has been expecting her Past Life Regression Therapist, opens the door to find the Indian-American Par before her (not as he is, in his jeans and t-shirt, but as an ashram guru bathed in a golden aura). She instantly mistakes him for her new therapist, and he becomes her unsuspecting savior. As our silent, meat-loving hero anticipates his hug, his quest for fulfillment is hijacked by the chakra-focused, militantly-vegetarian stranger. Using cleverly-chosen music and sound effects straight out of a spaghetti western, Parekh brings anticipation, suspense, and surprise to a zany, one-sided conversation.
The Happy parodies LA’s fascination with rediscovery and spiritual enlightenment as a disharmonious mixture of self-reflection and self-aggrandizement, a place “where everybody talks and nobody listens.” In the film’s LA, absurd human tendencies to over-mystify just about everything and mankind’s tendencies to typecast just about everyone are depicted with humor.
Parekh explains that, “The Happy is a place that exists just left of actual Los Angeles. It’s a highly stylized version of a place we think we know—a caricatured city playing a character itself. Here, the ultimate goal isn’t to be happy, but to have your brand of The Happy™ be more authentic than everyone else’s.”
The film, and the series which it anchors, was inspired by Parekh’s initial move to LA and his subsequent discovery of this strange and magical place. “Angelenos from every walk of life seem to project onto me their hopes and dreams and seek from me spiritual enrichment, which is really pretty comical since I can barely figure out how to get to La Cienega, let alone Nirvana.”
The Happy had its theatrical premiere at SeriesFest in New York in June 2019 and was screened at Austin Film Festival as part of the original series program. “I am so thankful to my nearly-all-female cast and crew for helping me bring my vision to life,” says Par. “I hope my film will make audiences laugh as the Par character ventures through LA’s bizarre subcultures, meeting people who are so eager to find happiness, they think that a lovable goof can put them on their path to #bliss.”